This Thanksgiving is important and we have a lot to be thankful for. After a tumultuous year of severe flooding, violence, and political upheavals, a good meal should make everyone ready to sit down and relax together.
The problem is, this isn't like the "old days" when everyone watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or they played a traditional game of flag football. There's more fighting in families and discord that's heating up faster than old Willie Bird in the oven.
Depending on what you're serving and who's coming over, there are probably 4 different kinds of Thanksgiving meals:
The point is, Thanksgiving isn't great for everyone. Some people can become extremely depressed over the holidays. Not having family or a sense of love can cause severe anxiety, anger, depression and even heart attacks or severe heartache. And, why do people lash out? Because hurting people hurt people. It's not intentional but people are sometimes afraid they will get hurt again so they say words that hurt to protect themselves. Instead, pray and ask God to bring healing into the home, healing into hearts and only choose words that love, uplift and support.
Some families regret the planning stages surrounding the holidays and dread family reunions because there might be someone with "unfinished business" or hidden animosities. Because these resentments and jealousies grow with each passing year, any reunion can be an explosive one. And, why does the devil wait until the dinner table to cause derision? Because the devil is looking for a willing host or a door that's open so he can get in and break down the unity in the family and turn one family member against another. Hence, for some, Thanksgiving is a mix of people that love you, some you tolerate and some that might want to undermine you.
That's what happened when Jesus sat down with the disciples in the Upper Room.
When Jesus ate with His disciples, not everyone shared his agenda. Judas was at the table and Jesus knew that Judas would eventually betray him. But, Judas was part of God's plan. That undermining and betrayal had to be included alongside the candied sweet potatoes and gravy. Someone had to come against Jesus so He could die for our sins.
Now, that's not to say that someone at your Thanksgiving table is planning an ulterior motive when they grab the turkey leg. No, but similar to how Jesus was able to sit with His disciples and show love, we should, too. And, it might have to be "intentional" love meaning you intentionally overlook the harsh words and walk in love.
The danger in holiday planning is thinking that the holiday will be perfect if that one person is left out. You might think, "If Sheila stays home, we'll have a better time," but God might want you to show Sheila love despite how she's treating you. Remember, Jesus showed love and washed Judas's feet, too, despite knowing that Judas would betray Him.
Jesus loved Judas and Judas was not bad, but he was chosen to be part of God's plan. It's why Jesus hugged Judas and rebuked Peter. Judas would lead to the fulfillment of the scripture and Jesus's death on the cross. Judas's betrayal was as God intended so Christ could die and be resurrected. Hence, there might be a hidden blessing behind that person you make up.
In a similar story about betrayal, Saul came against David. However, sometimes God will let a person turn against you if it's for a purpose. And even if they ALL turn against you, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations.
Saul turned against David because David was anointed to be king and with God, there's never a blessing without a testing first. That's what teaches us humility and keeps us close to God and centered on Him. We need God's grace and His mercy and we also need to stay humble so He can raise us up to do His work and His will.
So, how do you handle family discord when all you can think is "it's about to go down"?
How to Heal Family Discord Over the Holidays
When family shows up and there's discord, try these tips:
This Thanksgiving, whoever you sit down with or don't sit down with, know that you have a loving Father God who is there for you. Know that if they turn against you and don't invite you, that's okay, too. Keep giving God glory.
Having family that doesn't get along or doesn't embrace you around the holidays does not mean that you're bad or that you've done anything wrong. God might be using them for His purpose so He can get the glory out of your life. Ask God to change their hearts and see them all as saved and Christians one day soon. Now pass the stuffing, please! And, enjoy your Thanksgiving - together!